Confession key to Church renewal, Cardinal Wuerl reflects

Cardinal Donald Wuerl gives a homily during Mass at tomb of St Peter January 16 2011 CNA US Catholic News 1 16 12 Cardinal Donald Wuerl gives a homily during Mass at tomb of St Peter, January 16, 2011.

In a March 10 homily in Rome, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. emphasized the importance of the sacrament of confession in liberating the faithful and leading them back to God.

"It remains one of the great marvels of God's love that God would make forgiveness so readily available to each of us," Cardinal Wuerl said.

"In the simple actions of contrition, confession, absolution, and satisfaction we are restored to a whole new life," he explained.

The cardinal's comments came during his homily at Saint Peter in Chains, his titular church in Rome. Since cardinals are part of the clergy of Rome, each is given a titular parish, which they are responsible for supporting.

Cardinal Wuerl is currently in Rome in preparation for the conclave that begins March 12 and will yield the election of a new Pope.

In his homily, he recalled the importance of hearing regularly about "the possibility to be free from sin."

The cardinal recounted that a couple who had been married for 50 years once told him that the success of their lives was due to the fact that they make a point to pray together each night, so that they never forget that Christ is "a part of our love, our marriage and our lives."

The Church and the sacraments are also "great gifts to us from God" to help us remember "that God is a part of our love, our lives, all that we do," he said.

Cardinal Wuerl referred to the sacrament of confession as "the sacrament of the New Evangelization," explaining that it "looms very large" in the renewal of the Church's life.

Despite our best efforts, "the worst in us" is at times exposed through our actions, the cardinal noted, adding that this is because of our willfulness and because of original sin, but that we do have a way to overcome these tendencies.

"It is in Jesus Christ...he leads us back to the Father, overcomes the tragic alienation of sin and restores harmony," he said.

"Not only did Jesus die to wash away all sin and not only in his public life did he forgive sin, but after his Resurrection Jesus also extended to his Church the power to apply the redemption won on the cross and the authority to forgive sin."

Cardinal Wuerl also commented on the day's Gospel of the prodigal son as an opportunity for us to see in our own lives the son's failure and his father's forgiveness when he repented.

The cardinal emphasized that God makes his forgiveness readily available to every person.

"Fully conscious that only God forgives sins, we bring our failings to the Church because Jesus imparted to his apostles his own power to forgive sins," he said. "In doing this Jesus gave to his Church the authority to restore and reconcile the sinner with God and also the ecclesial community, the Church."

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